NEW YORK — The new Navy assault ship USS New York, built with World Trade Center steel, arrived in its namesake city Monday with a rifle volley salute near the site of the 2001 terrorist attack.
First responders, families of Sept. 11 victims and the public gathered Monday at a waterfront viewing area, where they could see the crew standing at attention along the deck of the battleship gray vessel.
The big ship paused. Then the shots fired, with a cracking sound, in three bursts.
The bow of the $1 billion ship, built in Louisiana, contains about 7.5 tons of steel from the fallen towers.
"It's a transformation... from something really twisted and ugly," said Rosaleen Tallon, who lost her firefighter brother, Sean, on 9/11. "I'm proud that our military is using that steel."
Tallon said her brother, who was a Marine, would have been proud.
JoAnn Atlas of Howells, N.Y., who lost her husband, fire Lt. Gregg Atlas, draped a flag-themed banner along the fence. The names of emergency workers who died were written on the red stripes.
"We have to remember. It's a way to honor them," she said.
Members of the public included Nancy DiGiacomo, who came from Huntington, N.Y., with her husband, 9-year-old son, mother and sister.
"I just thought it was important to see" the transformation of the tragedy's wreckage, said DiGiacomo. "From that, something else can come of it."
Lt. Cmdr. Colette Murphy, a Navy spokeswoman, said she was excited for those serving on board to see the city's "awe-inspiring" welcome.
At a short ceremony later at Pier 88 near the site of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the USS New York couldn't have a more fitting name, representing freedom, courage and resilience.
"This ship is actually a physical representation of that spirit with steel from the World Trade Center built into its bow so every friend that sets foot on it and every foe that dares challenge it will feel its power and know that it is literally made from the heart and soul of the city that has sacrificed so much," the mayor said.
Of the 361 sailors serving aboard the ship, about 13 percent are from New York state, which is higher than would normally be the case, Murphy said. There were many requests from Navy personnel to serve on the ship, which will carry some 250 Marines.
After the ground zero stop, the ship — escorted by about two dozen tugboats and other vessels — headed up the Hudson River toward the George Washington Bridge. After a U-turn there, it headed south to Pier 88. An official commissioning ceremony is scheduled for Saturday.
The New York will remain in the city through Veterans Day and then head to Norfolk, Va., for about a year of crew training and exercises, Murphy said.
The ship is 684 feet long and can carry as many as 800 Marines. Its flight deck that can handle helicopters and the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.